Sunday, December 31, 2006

Could it be, could it be winter?

It appears that this streak of the world's lamest winter has perhaps been broken by a beautiful New Year's Eve snow. It is gorgeous. One of the things I love most about Minnesota is the snow. Having to wait until New Year's Eve in order to get our first measurable snow fall is like waiting until July for the daffodils to bloom. It's all wrong.

My kids, who have spent most of their lives suffering in a practically winterless Arkansas, could not wait to get out and sled. When the snow had merely frosted the grass, there they were in sleds. We're supposed to get up to 5 inches.

The first snow of the year makes for ugly snowmen. Unless you let it snow a lot, the rolling of the large snowballs presses into the grass underneath the snow and it picks up all loose grass and the leaves you should have raked back in October. However, the novelty of it all overshadows the ugliness.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

To Own A Dragon

I like the book called, To Own A Dragon. Donald Miller discusses life without a father. It's a great complement to Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. The books are verydifferent angles at the same kind of topic - the longing for boys to be fathered.

I have especially recommended this book for single mothers raising sons on my Smart Single Parents Blog.

The following quote was quite penetrating for me, especially since I am a natural born introvert.

Relationships unlock certain parts of who we are supposed to be.

That's rich. Let it sink in. Lying within each of us is this package of something wonderful, beautiful, and powerful - and yet the key to unlocking that potential does not lie within ourselves, but within another person. This is part of the beauty of marriage, friendship, raising children, being part of a church, inv iting neighbors over for cards etc.

Relationships are the context in which the very best in us can be released. We are gold mines waiting to be mined. Unless we let people in, we may never bless the world like we were inteneded to.

Friday, December 29, 2006

New Years Is A Relief

I take the changing of the year seriously. For me, it is an opportunity to start over. It is opportunity to change. It is an opportunity for redemption, forgiveness, and healing.

Healing. Ah yes, healing. When I am beaten down, tired, and sore, it's a good time for the new year to come. When I am broken, I need the new year to show up.

The new year is so close. I can taste it. I can see it. I need it. I am grateful to God for creating the cycles of seasons, months, and days.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

2007 Has Got To Be Better

I was griping to my wife that 2006 was not exactly the greatest of years. Much of it centered on the death of my father and major life transitions. It was the most stressful year in many.

And then there is perspective. Comparison always gives perspective. I could compare my 2006 with someone whose life was perfect and I would feel worse. I could compare my 2006 with a kid who lost his parents to AIDS and lives in abject poverty. Then I might not feel like my stress is so bad.

Or, I could compare myself to myself and avoid the false sense of being OK and a false sense of guilt. So, that is what I am going to do.

Compared to 2006, I want 2007 to be better.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Koran Blog On Its Ways

I am blogging through the Koran in 2007. I have some posts called, "Before I Get Started," that are fun and insightful. Please check them out - #1 here and #2 here.

I hope you will join me in learning about the sacred book of the religion of Islam. Go ahead and mark your bloglines to this address.

Expanding Mission

So long as the church equates mission with evangelism, people will continue to suffer.

For many, perhaps most, churches of Christ, mission is evangelism. That's it. Everything else is secondary. Yes, hunger and war, environment and AIDS are important things, but those will be dealt with once they are all saved. Salvation first, social justice second.

This false dichotomy is not only misguided, the hierarchy hinders both efforts.When eternal salvation is parceled off from current salvation, the good news is ripped in half. Jesus did not with hold healing until people accepted Him as the savior of the world. He did not even require acceptance of eternal salvation in order to heal.

The church must do the same. Mission must become more than evangelism. Mission must become more than a portion of the gospel.

Gospel is good news. When someone is healed, that's good news. When a marriage is saved, that's good news. When emotions are healed, that's good news. When AIDS is treated, that is good news. When hungry people are fed, that is good news.

Yes, evangelism is important, but when it is the only definition of mission, then people are not going to get the help they need today. When the church does not help people with their needs today, why would people believe that they have anything for them for eternity?

Mission is more than evangelism, therefore, church should be structured that way.

Missions clusters should be organized to focus on a specufic cause. This is not the missions committee. This is more like small group cause clusters. Each group should do the following:

0. Meet regularly
1. Pick a cause (local hunger)
2. Research the problem (who, what, where, when etc)
3. Research what is already being done toward solving the problem
4. Develop a workable way toward contributing to the solution
5. Report findings to the congregation
6. Plan events that contribute to the solution

Topics ideas:

Hunger local
Hunger global
AIDS orphans
Mental Health Issues
Environment/global warming
Health food/exercise

Add your ideas here

Monday, December 25, 2006

Godfather of Soul Dies

James Borwn passed away on Christmas eve. He was 73. We have lost a man whose soul made a difference. He had a kind of presence that brouht freedom and a sense of the spontaneous to the music world. even if you weere not a big fan, you'll miss him. He was anything but boring.

Yahoo brief story here.

BBC photos here.

List of James Brown's hits.

James Brown had some influence.

James Brown Official Website.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blogging The Koran

In 2007, I blog the Koran. My Koran blog is here.

I am a life long Christian who has tried to keep the the teachings of the Bible and follow the God of the Bible.

I also live in a nation that can no longer ignore or disrespect Islam. In an effort at listening, learning, and an attempt at honest inquiry, I will read through the Koran.

What I am doing:
1. Learning the sacred scriptures of a major world religion.
2. Appraoching the Koran from my current religious situation.
3. Sharing my personal insights, bias, and enlightenments from the study.

What I am not doing:
1. Proving the Koran wrong. I will not test or question the claims to authenticity of the writings.
2. Trying to cause trouble. I do not intendt to insult the religion of Islam. I apologize in advance if I do.
3. Trying to be converted to Islam. I have no intention changing religions.

Please join me in this investigation at Blogging the Koran.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Mystery of Celery

I have heard that you burn more calories eating celery than you ingest.

So, that being true, how many stalks of celery does one need to eat in order to disappear?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Many, Many Blogs

Take a look over to the right. Go ahead, it's OK. You'll notice that my blog list is growing. Feel free to browse my blogs.

I have started a political blog - 2008 For President - we'll see how that goes.

There is also a photoblog - Nature, Art, and Architecture - feel free to rip these photos - just give me credit.


Wednesday at 3:30 PM I will be done with my first semester of doctoral studies in Family Social Science.

As it stands, I figure I'll show up next semester and see what happens.

Monday, December 18, 2006

1st Christmas Without My father

A week from today is the first Christmas without my father. I am sad, but not for the reasons you might think. Yes, I miss him. But Christmas and my father never did mix very well.

Half of my Christmas memories of my father came after my parent's divorced while I was in college. That meant a split Christmas. It was not split evenly, though. Most of post-college Christmas time was spent with my mother and the host of people she invited over, mostly, but not always, comproised of relatives. Dad was alone in his apartment.

I would take a dive over there, to his lonely place, and we'd eat a pizza and watch TV - maybe talk politcs. Yes, it was time with my dad, but it wasn't what the wonder of Christmas was supposed to be. It was sad. It was this reminder that my parents were divorced - really divorced. My hopes that hrey might work things out were crushed with each visit. Those feelings of fading hope were most reinforced over Christmas at dad's place.

So, this Christmas I don't really miss any of that. I don't miss those sad times. I am sad this Christmas because of the emtpy spot where there are supposed to be happy memories with my father. There really aren't any. Then I look at my children. I have got to make sure that have something happy to remember when they look back on their childhood.

I must allow my past to inform my present in order to create a better future.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Church of Christ and Christmas

Thankfully a formerly popular Church of Christ christmas practice is waning. The practice was that of not celebrating Christmas.

There was a time when preachers in the Church of Christ would intentionally avoid preaching sermons out of the first few chapters of any gospel during the month of December. Elders would ban hymns honoring Jesus' birth. There was to no mention of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
It almost sounds cultist to me to even think about it.

Of course, it was all based on pricinple and truth. Since the Bible itself does not mention a specific date of Jesus' birth, there was not cause for celebration. Until we unearthed (from the bible) the real birth date of Jesus, any celebration was wordly. Yes, the Church of Christ practice was to label the celebration of Jesus' birth as worldly. That's insanity.

The practice and critique was not based on the overcommercialization, excessive consumerism, or self-indulgence associated with the season. No, it was nitpicky, theological, molecules which were over-reacted upon and thus robbing families of something sacred and holy and beautiful.

But I say about the Churches of Christ, "We're bringing Christmas back, baby!"

Let's celebrate the birth of Jesus because he was born, because he came to be near us, because he become one of us, because he loves us to do such a thing, because the poetic beauty of the incarnation, because there is something into which we must be incarnated, because God is with us.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Welcome Back

I am back to blogspot. Thanks for following me here. I plan to be here for a while, so go ahead and change those links.

This new and imporved blogspot is so good it is like they read my mind. Knowing google, they probably did. I like everything about it.

So, please visit this site from now on.

Set this up on your bloglines or other feed reader site.


Latino baby boom next twist in redistribution of demography in New Orleans.

Click here for NY Times article.